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Undergraduate Progression: Tracking Engineering Undergraduate Students' Experiences To Elucidate The Critical Factors That Gaining Stem Identity Within A Stem Scholar's Program (ssp)
Over the past decade, reports such as the PCAST, National Research Council and AAAS’ Vision and Change, have called for a shift to increase and diversify the number of minorities that participate in STEM programs and attain terminal degrees. Yet, there has been a stall in recruitment and retention of Black students that pursue and attain undergraduate degrees in engineering. Although HBCUs account for less than 3 percent of the universities and colleges in the United States, yet they produce 27 percent of Black students that earn bachelors degrees in STEM. In this study, we highlight Black undergraduate engineering students that are participating within a larger STEM program. The program's mission is to increase the number of their students that engage in and choose to pursue terminal degrees or join the Department of Defense workforce as scientists and engineers. The structured program has been designed and is currently being implemented by faculty and program directors who have earned their terminal degrees and use their knowledge and networks to expose students to different aspects of the experiences of practicing scientists and engineers. This design is provide students with a greater insight in hopes of assisting them in gravitating towards becoming more central and less peripheral to the culture of engineering and scientists. Using a survey instrument we assess engineering identity by tracking our students during their matriculation through an undergraduate program to determine the critical factors that contribute to their interest, perceptions, and career-making decisions as it pertains to the STEM disciplines. We anticipate that results from this study can contribute to the larger literature on the main variables within a STEM program that help cultivate and produce high achieving Black STEM scholars who attain their terminal degrees and enter the STEM workforce.